Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Word to the Wise this Wednesday

I was going to post another Word Wednesday because it’s been awhile, but recently I’ve been reading about something that has me concerned—copyright and the use of photos on our blogs.

As a writer who plans on selling e-books, I have no desire to see anyone’s work pirated and yet, it seems that, without thinking of it, I may have done so, as many of us have done. When’s the last time you went to Google, found a pic you liked and hit the right click button on your mouse to save it? If you didn’t check the copyright and/or didn’t give credit (where credit is asked for in lieu of payment), you technically broke the law. I do this all the time—well, I used to—in the erroneous assumption that Google images are public property. Negatory. This is not the case.

In order to use photos, you must have the express permission of the photographer. This permission can be granted, from what I understand, by the artist placing the work on a free image site, such as Wiki Images or from the artist placing the work on a stock photo site. Stock sites will usually either have a yearly charge for X amount of “free” downloads or will be “free” with a per photo charge.

I know this topic seems obvious, but the age of instant gratification seems to have overrun the common sense we were taught as children:

Using all or part of someone else’s work without their permission and without giving them credit is called theft. It is illegal.

Now, when I was a kid (yup, now I sound like my parents), this was not such a worry with pictures and photographs. There was no internet (can the dinosaur jokes, if you please) and there were limited ways to make copies:

 1. Making a mimeograph copy. 
 2. Using copy paper (sometimes called "carbon paper") to make a copy.
 3. Using tracing paper to make a copy.
 4. Going to the big office store to use their copy machine (in later years).

All of these methods are purposeful—like a pre-planned murder, to employ any of these methods would, in a court of law, show undeniable intent. Intent to what, I don’t know; I’m no lawyer, the phrase just sounds cool. But it takes time and effort to trace a picture or to go to the office or store and make a copy or to re-draw the picture after placing it over a sheet of copy paper and a clean sheet of paper and keeping them lined up (usually with paper clips). If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, I do. I used to employ the copy paper and tracing paper methods. I was a kid once and I wanted to be able to draw like the experts. I figured if I traced their work and saw how their hands moved, I could draw just like them. I was incorrect. But I digress…

By comparison to the Ice Age methods I used, it takes very little time or effort to right click on a photo or picture and select “save as”, then upload it to a blog. It takes time and effort to find the copyright info and to do the right thing by giving the owner of the photo credit. You will notice that photos not taken by me or my family have been temporarily removed. Once I find out who to give proper credit to and how, I will re-post them. 

This website proved helpful with copyright and how it works.
This one gave some tips on where to find free (and legal) stock photos.
Another helpful site about copyright.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Six Scene Starters for Saturday

Here we go, all! Sorry I missed you last week, but the reason why is good. (See my entry about SERE)

The inside of the pub was warm, the air permeated with the yeasty smell of new-made bread and the sounds of many happy patrons.

Sheila inhaled and her nose hairs froze. Her lungs burned from the cold and she quickly slammed the door shut.

Children laughed and played, frolicking along the beach, throwing brightly colored plastic balls in the air and building castles from the wet sand.

The moon shone down over the sleepy village, a pregnant harvest moon that lit the streets nearly as brightly as the sun.

Tea had always calmed her—the hot liquid of the boiled leaves sweetened with a touch of honey always made her think of her mother and better days.

Shane pushed Kayla against the wall; the surprise in her eyes only made him want her more as he dipped his head, his lips no more than a whisper away from hers.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thunking Thursday

I've been an unwitting fangirl for many years. The first time I realized that I was one of these wondrous creatures was when I was watching Robin Hood BBC. My favorite character was Allan A'Dale--not a guy I would normally look twice at, more the fool me. The more I watched, the more fond I became of Allan. He was cheeky and honest (except when he wasn't), creative, witty, and good with a sword or two. If you looked in a dictionary, you would see Joe Armstrong's Allan as the picture next to the entry of "scamp" or "scalawag" or "scoundrel".

The more I got to know Allan, the more closely I looked. And liked. Joe's got amazingly blue eyes and lashes that a woman would kill for. Workouts during the seasons or between them toned his body until he looked as good out of a shirt as in one. I didn't even mind his ginger hair, normally not a hair-color I like in men. He was one of the first characters I ever wrote about and the first I wrote extensively about. What did I write? A romance, of course. That's how The Thief was born. My first story was light and innocent, in keeping with the flavor of the show. Subsequent stories became more and more graphic.

I wrote The Thief as an exercise in stretching my writing muscles. It is on my "to do" list to edit, change things and publish the story one day. Thank you Joe Armstrong and Allan A'Dale for helping me get back into writing.

[pic of Joe as Allan in Brothers in Arms]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SERE Graduation

SERE graduation took place outside of Columbia, S.C. on a warm day, but not an excessively hot day, like the day we dropped my teen and his friend off. 

E (my teen) said they had black flag conditions for almost all of the first week. They swam out to an island in the middle of driving rain and nearly sideways wind, stayed for two days while it poured, then came back when the weather turned nasty. LOL They did not have to eat squirrels, but survived off of one MRE per day, plus whatever they could catch. My son's group caught freshwater clams, but not enough to really fill their bellies. They were hunted by "Nazis" and learned how to throw knives and shoot their M-16s.

E didn't get any special awards, but he was asked to return next year to staff it and has already agreed to do so. I guess he didn't have that horrible of a time. He said why he was having such a hard time at first was the black flag conditions and the lack of food--they weren't getting enough calories to take care of their bodies' basic needs. The doc stepped in and that changed fast. Next year, this won't be a problem. 

There are 40 Naval Sea Cadets hiding in the woods. Can you find them?

Graduating class of 2012

My baby with his rifle:

My baby is fierce 2

My baby getting his certificate from the XO:

My baby shaking the XOs hand

My baby with his rifle again:

My baby standing in ranks 3

My baby with a Bushmaster BA 50 cal:

My baby with Bushmaster BA 50 2

My baby in ranks:

My baby with rifle 2

Before they marched the cadets out of the woods, they threw a smoke screen:

Smoke screen

The colors (and our silver Subaru in the background):

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My life in chaos or how cleaning the bathmats threw off half of my day

I usually spend Monday mornings doing some light admin in my business. Last Monday, I also had to invoice my sales order and put the customer orders together. This is where Law-maker Murphy decided to play his prank. You see, I work from my home and I work long hours with my business, so in an effort to keep on top of both jobs, I do household chores between work tasks. Throw the kids and writing into the mix, set on the stove on low and—voila!—Chaos Soup.

At any rate, yesterday, I decided to finally wash the bath mats in the master bath—it’d been a month, they were due (no, I'm no Martha Stewart, but that's good since I don't think I'd do well with prison food). Hubby & I have two mats on the floor—one outside the shower stall and one outside the garden bathtub. We have two of them down because it’s easier than moving the one. We mostly shower, but we’re—pleasingly plump?—so we need to rest our feet on the bathtub to dry our legs.

Easy enough task one would think, to clean the bathmats. Simply pick them up from the floor and throw them in the washer—yes? No. One of our bathmats was rather old because we simply can’t afford to spend money on such frivolous things when there are airsoft guns to buy, ROTC trainings to pay for, karate classes on automatic payments, and brush bars & jacked-up wheels & air tanks & roof racks to buy for the Outback (hubby’s Subaru, not the place in Australia or the restaurant). Because the bathmat in question was old and had been on the floor for many weeks, when I tried to pick it up, it wouldn’t move. Then, at my insistence, it started to come up, but not all of it—only the top half. Large chunks of the fiber matting from the bottom remained stuck to my floor like glue. In our brand-new house (well, new to us—we closed in May and moved in June 1).

So, now I’ve got to throw out the bathmat. I do so, after putting a garbage bag in the garbage can because I’d asked J, my younger son, to take care of the trash earlier (he’d cleaned the yard from his friends coming over the night before, again, after I asked him to, and thrown a plate full of ant-covered burger into my kitchen garbage can). Naturally, since I didn’t ask him to, he didn’t replace the bag. So, I put a bag in the can and throw the bathmat in the bag.

Next step—cleaning the stuck-on fibers off of my tile floor, without gouging it or leaving scratches. I wanted to try the wet sponge mop first, but since I left it in the toilet stall when water made its way onto the floor a few weeks ago, I forgot where it was and had to go on the search. Mind, with a new house and many things still in boxes because we were without air conditioning for two weeks and I was avoiding being in the house unless strictly necessary, “the search” is required for many things. Luckily, J, who is ever observant of other people’s things, told me where it was. However, my wash buckets were out in the back yard, in ant central. Since I had no desire to turn this simple job into a long process (yup, I get the irony), I rinsed out the mop in my bathroom sink, the same one I wash my hands and brush my teeth in. I found, with surprisingly little effort) the all-purpose cleaner and sprayed it on the fibers, then let it set for a couple of minutes while I went to put the other bathmat in the laundry.

I opened the washing machine to find E, my older son’s—clothes from his survival training still in the wash. I took them out and opened the dryer, to find another load still in the dryer. So, I reset the dryer to de-wrinkle the clothes and left the BDUs and other items in the washer (I hadn’t looked when I put the clothes in to wash, just dumped the sea bag and tried not to pass out from the fumes of swamp and two-weeks unwashed male teen). The newer bathmat got thrown to the floor in front of the washer to become the next load.

I figured sufficient time had passed, so I went back to try to mop up the stuck-on fibers from the tiles. Have you ever tried to mop up dried-on super glue with a sponge? It’s kinda like trying to ring a doorbell with a wet noodle. So, off to try to find an alternate way to get this stuff up. While scrounging around for a cleaning tool of some sort, I found my husband’s putty knife sitting by the kitchen sink. Don’t ask—I try not to. I said to myself—I said, “Self, if you’re really careful, this might work.” The next twenty minutes were spent very carefully scraping the stuck-on fibers from my tile floor, running my fingers along the floor to find places I’d missed and then washing up the all-purpose cleaner from the floor. It worked!

And now I have to go buy a new bathmat. I wonder what adventure that will bring?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Science Fiction Fandom A Light Hearted Look at the Species known as Fans.

The following is an article written by a friend on Gateworld, the forum for fans of Stargate in all its forms. It had me laughing and I though y'all might get a chuckle out of it, too. I'm posting this a bit early, as I will be on the road most of Friday.

I’ve been a Science Fiction fan for many years, for most of my life to be precise.
But it was at my first convention ‘Rec Con’, a Star Trek convention, in 1992 that my eyes were opened to the various incarnations Fans of the genre take.
I hope to describe a few here in this little piece.

We first have
 Fanus Normilias. This is a quite shy creature that tends to sit in the background and watch. Taking part only where necessary, normally found hiding in most towns and cities. Collects and reads SF and Fantasy. 

We now have
 Fanus Geekus. This is a creature, which is found at most conventions, often at watering holes (The Hotel Bar). Openly displaying their Knowledge in trivia quizzes. Strangely absent when called to the mating rituals (The evening Disco). Collects and reads SF and Fantasy and openly displays them. This creature often specialises in a particular series. Has been known to be violent against other fans, if the general opinion does not match theirs. Thankfully that side of Geekus is seldom seen.

There is a sub species of
 Geekus. This species of fan is very rare but does exist.
Fanus Getalifeus. This creature seldom ventures out in daylight. Believes that what appears on screen is actually real life. Although appearances at conventions have been confirmed, they are strangely absent from most forms of convention ritual. With the exception of the video rooms and screenings. This form of fan is not limited to SF & Fantasy. This Species has been seen with regard to television soap operas.

Then there is
 Fanus Normilias Superior. This is a strange type of fan. It can be said this is an evolved form of the Normilias. Being not as shy as the Normilias. Far from sitting in the background, this creature is quite open about it’s interest. Like the Geekus takes part in trivia quizzes. And although it can be found at watering holes, it is also seen taking part in mating rituals. Has been known to mate for life. Often collects autographs of their idols. Collects and reads SF and Fantasy, and is not afraid to live in the real world.

From there we go to,
 Fanus Triviaus. 
How can we describe this form of fan? This is very difficult for observers.
For this creature can be very deadly. It is quite possibly that the Triviaus is an evolved form of Geekus. Although it is speculated that it is another species of fan.
 is a regular attendee at conventions. Often attending one or more gatherings a year.
They are the ones who set many of the quizzes and have a broad base of knowledge. Like
 Geekus can be found near the watering holes. Triviaus can be seen at the mating rituals, often performing strange dances such as Star Trekkin’, Time Warp, YMCA and many others. Has been seen to mate for life. Triviaus collects and reads SF and Fantasy and openly displays its collection within its natural habitat. Has no difficulty in living in the real world. 

Are there other species of fan yet to be discovered? We’ll just have to wait and see. I freely admit to not attending conventions in recent years. So have the described fans evolved?
We’ll just have to wait and see.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Six Scene Starters for Saturday

Sorry I missed last week--we were dropping my son off at a field survival training with the Naval ROTC program. Here's a few more scene starters for your perusal:

A pair of eyes glittered in the darkness—this was so not what he’d envisioned when he agreed to the camping trip.

Purple was her favorite color, but the room went beyond her fantasies right into garish nightmares.

Books spilled from every shelf in the little study and lay open on the desk and floor.

The heat hit him like a wave as he passed through the door; something was wrong.

A pair of innocent eyes stared up at her and her heart was instantly lost to her newborn baby girl.

The surf swirled up onto the sand, the shooshing sound soothing her and causing her eyelids to droop. 

Hope you enjoy!